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Objectivism: The philosophy of the future?
December 31, 2004 6:28 PM   Subscribe

The U.S should not help tsunami victims according to those ever-thoughtful fellows at the Ayn Rand Institute. Why not? Because, Objectively speaking, altruism is evil, especially collective altruism.
posted by jdroth (84 comments total)

 
He's right, of course. The government's money is really our money. And I say, we should use our money to help these people! Otherwise, what the hell is a government for?!
posted by SPrintF at 6:46 PM on December 31, 2004


You know, I am no fan of the randroids, but the first paragraph of the linked article does completely deflate your point.

Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.

Their point is that the money that governments give is not really theirs to give. I disagree, but they are entitled to that opinion. So this is a pretty lousy post, all things considered.
posted by pascal at 6:48 PM on December 31, 2004


And Fred Phelps thinks its fabulous that those faggy Swedes died in the disaster. These people are broken records, ideologically speaking. Pull the cord and the same tired nonsence comes out, regardless of context.

It's besides the point, but there's a quite obvious "pragmatic" case for aiding the tsunami victims [from dailykos.com].
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:51 PM on December 31, 2004


Awful, awful post.

Metafilter is not covering this tragedy well at all.
posted by dydecker at 6:51 PM on December 31, 2004


By what right?

By what crappy civics lessons?

That's my question. As usual, the randroids leave me wondering whether they simply don't understand the concept of representative government in practice, or they're attacking that concept in a backhanded way.
posted by drpynchon at 6:58 PM on December 31, 2004


Seems like a reductio ad absurdum of the view that taxation is evil if it means one can't tax to help victims of extreme devastation. If there's anything that's justifiable to tax for, it's disaster relief.
posted by ontic at 7:05 PM on December 31, 2004


I genuinely don't understand the eagerness of some people to mock those who challenge their beliefs about the proper role and scope of government.

Of course, jdroth, you're welcome to quit your job, take your savings, and be an aid worker. After all, if you think everyone should be forced to provide aid, you ought not to have a problem with providing more.

Further, the kos argument can't be proven or disproven, hence its appeal to its supporters.

drpynchon-- of course they understand it. They just disagree with it. I'm sure you can think of something that our democratically-elected government does of which you disapprove.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:05 PM on December 31, 2004


Too bad there's no Howard Roarke around. He'd do the right thing and blow up the banks rather than spend our tax money!
posted by miss lynnster at 7:11 PM on December 31, 2004


It's a silly argument even by objectivist standards: judicious foreign aid given in order to make the United States less hated and reviled in the eyes of foreign peoples may serve to reduce the requirement for future defense expenditures. Defense, as a proper function of the state, and current investment of small amounts in the hope of heading off larger requirements later, as a methodology, are perfectly "rational" even from a Randian view.
posted by tyllwin at 7:12 PM on December 31, 2004


Kwanstar -- that's correct, I disagree with lots of things our government spends money on, but I generally don't question it's "rights" to do so. My response is to either argue against the merits of the spending on a case-by-case basis in order to change people's minds, or to vote, encourage voting, make a donation, or enact some other form of political change. Welcome to America. This is how we make large-scale decisions.

Perhaps the author should make an argument in favor of putting all spending decisions to a national vote, if that's what he really means. In any case, the issue of "rights" is a red herring, and a pathetic attempt to take some non-existant moral high-ground (typical). By always couching things in terms of rights they are being disingenuous, because just about all the spending (of our hard earned dollars) the federal government undertakes is done without much direct consent from us. That's how our government functions at this time.

Why do objectivists hate America?
posted by drpynchon at 7:31 PM on December 31, 2004


Am I missing something? Did jdroth come out in favor of the Objectivist manifesto?

I'm not sure how this fpp is deserving of anyone's criticism, frankly. My own impression, in fact, was that the recent comparisons of AR's crank parade with a recent animated movie (The Incredibles) were making it a dangerous possibility that people might not appreciate fully what these fuckwads really believe when the sheets come off, so I was glad to see an editorial so laughably noxious that it left no room for fence sitting.
posted by docpops at 7:33 PM on December 31, 2004


tyllwin, our defense spending is not based on existing or anticipated threats. In a military economy, defense industries exist to provide jobs and line pockets, not to properly equip our soldiers.

I'm all for your point of being proactive to reduce hatred of our country and reduce future conflicts. But realize what America is. Peace would cause major economic upheaval for us, both for our own military spending and the arms our country sells around the world. Peace is not prosperous. That's the prevailing view.
posted by fleener at 7:33 PM on December 31, 2004


Perhaps Davy Crockett said it better.
posted by bh at 7:39 PM on December 31, 2004


Happy New Year's to everyone except the author of this article.
posted by inksyndicate at 7:40 PM on December 31, 2004


God, how I hate AR for inflicting these idiots upon us. People, we tried objectivism, that time is now called prehistory. Objectivists should protest by refusing to drive to work on freeways, refusing to eat food grown using subsidies, refusing to read books written by less-than-supermen, or utilize medicare, Medicaid or social security. We live in a society here, folks. There are certainly problems with it, but here we are, conversing in a medium that would not be possible if the haves were not forced to support the have-nots.
posted by SkinnerSan at 7:41 PM on December 31, 2004


I don't put that forth as the actual reason for the money being spent, fleener. I merely say that since the sum is both fairly trivial (just enough to put us in the top twenty, I think) and non-routine (coming only in response to harsh criticism of the US in this regard) complaining about it as violating the general Randian injuction on foreign aid is silly.

Personally, I'm cynical enough enough to think that the aid was given largely to improve the public image of Republican politicians, and that the ARI article was written specifically to garner attention by causing outrage, much as Rand herself was wont to do.
posted by tyllwin at 7:42 PM on December 31, 2004


Objectivism is not perfect. Randroids are much less so. But this extreme example shouldn't be used as a "bash Objectivism" thread.

I don't necessarily disagree with the US government giving $350 million in disaster relief...good grief, one of the defining characteristics of America is that we are generous about helping others in need. Voluntarily -- charitable organizations -- government assistance -- etc. But the article maintains that it is morally wrong to FORCE anyone to "donate" via taxation to this effort. Hard to argue with that, too.

But really, $350 million is WHOLE LOT OF MONEY. Would I be more comfortable if that money was returned to Americans via tax cuts? Would liberals rather use that money to fund a low-income healthcare program? Would we be better off using the money to put a human on Mars? Is this the best use of $350 million? Is it the right use of that money?

I'm not sure what the right answer is -- certainly I think that assistance should be rendered, but I honestly don't know how we can possibly determine the "proper" amount, either financially, militarily (rescue ships, etc), or otherwise. My inner Objectivist is definitely wrestling with this issue...
posted by davidmsc at 7:49 PM on December 31, 2004


Without having bothered to read the article, I agree we shouldn't help. People suck, and poor people suck even more than most. When we get rid of all the poor people, only us privileged rich people will be left and the world will be a shiny-clean Utopia, like a restroom in a five-star restaurant.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:55 PM on December 31, 2004


now there's a cause i can get behind!
posted by quonsar at 7:56 PM on December 31, 2004


Awww, you're always looking on the bright side, Crash.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:56 PM on December 31, 2004


crash: who will fetch me a washcloth, in this restroom you propose?
posted by mosch at 7:57 PM on December 31, 2004


I'm not sure how this fpp is deserving of anyone's criticism, frankly

Hundreds of thousands of people are dead. It looks like my girlfriend's father is missing.

I switch on Metafilter and what is it filled with? Snide political point scoring. This is just one more depressing thread out of many.

Have at it.
posted by dydecker at 7:58 PM on December 31, 2004


"crash: who will fetch me a washcloth, in this restroom you propose?"

The rich, but not-quite-as-rich-as-me, of course.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:01 PM on December 31, 2004


I genuinely don't understand the eagerness of some people to mock those who challenge their beliefs about the proper role and scope of government.

gee, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with their responding to world tragedy with such a stereotyped, horse-blindered editorial, could it?

put it this way ... i could post this sentiment to usenet or kuro5hin and be accused of trolling or parody ... but they're serious

let's face it ... what the objectivists want and believe is totally irrelevent to our world anyway ... they can just keep trumpeting in their ivory tower and we'll just go about the business of running a real civilization
posted by pyramid termite at 8:04 PM on December 31, 2004


Objectivists are childish.
posted by interrobang at 8:18 PM on December 31, 2004


Objectivists are about as relevant as the shakers. Unfortunately, they're much more likely to breed.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:19 PM on December 31, 2004


Howard Rourke was my idol in when I was a teen.
posted by codeofconduct at 8:34 PM on December 31, 2004


My take on it is that it's wasted resources. If you want to affect positive change in the world, and you have limited cash to do it, this isn't the right path, as desperately needed as it may be.

50,000 people die daily from easily and inexpensively preventable causes; many of them in the very region affected by the tsunami. As terrible as it was, the tsunami is miniscule compared to the suffering we inflict on each other... and the punch line is that while we can't do a damn thing to stop the occasional catastrophe, we actually can stop hunger and poverty.

But that's not fashionable. They don't make movies about it, and unless it's sexy, it's not going to make money.
posted by glider at 8:43 PM on December 31, 2004


Fuck Yeah!

By what fucking right are the politicians giving my goddamn 0.84331498* hard-earned dollars to help some goddamn brown people dry the fuck off?

(seriously, what the hell is this. Is Ayn Rand just an enormous joke without a punchline, or what...?)

On Preview: But the article maintains that it is morally wrong to FORCE anyone to "donate" via taxation to this effort. Hard to argue with that, too.

You know, I whole-heartily agree. Seriously. I want the government accounting office to make available a PDF form that you can print out, fill in your personal details, and check a box that says "I wish to opt-out of the Tsunami Relief Effort. Please send a check for the above amount (~$1.00), to my home address." Who's with me?

* population divided by aid sent. obviously not accurate, because not all of the population pays taxes, but come on.
posted by odinsdream at 9:02 PM on December 31, 2004


s/heartily/heartedly/
posted by odinsdream at 9:04 PM on December 31, 2004


Its a bad argument made by effete elite intellectualists. Big-effin'-deal, there are all manner of jackhole scumnuts applauding this devastation in the name of some holy whatsofuckin'ever whodong.

There's always going to be ghouls. Not that the Randists are ghoulish, just overly entrenched in their ideals.

Luckily there aren't that many of them and we really don't have to give two shits about what they think. They can feel all superior and not give any money and look like the dinks they are.
posted by fenriq at 9:10 PM on December 31, 2004


Awful, awful post. Metafilter is not covering this tragedy well at all.

I'm sorry the post disappoints you, dydecker. Each of us has reacted to this event in our own way. Me, I've devoured whatever media info I can find. Out of everything I've read, only this article, and its ideas, make me angry. I didn't post it out of a desire for "snide political point scoring" — I don't give a whit about the polictical implications of the Objectivist position — though I did post it because I thought it smacked of utter idiocy.

What do you feel would be a good way for Metafilter to have handled this tragedy? What kind of links would you share? What kind of posts would you have liked to see? (I'm not trying to be confrontational; I'm genuinely curious.)
posted by jdroth at 9:31 PM on December 31, 2004


Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.

I want to know which suffering people are at fault in this tragedy, and stop them from getting their freebies.
posted by Rumple at 9:45 PM on December 31, 2004


I agree with Davy Crockett.

Wow, I never thought I'd get the chance to say that on Metafilter!
posted by rushmc at 9:51 PM on December 31, 2004


What kind of posts would you have liked to see?

I would have prefered a less mandarin approach with fewer links to political editorializing and more links to first hand sources covering what's going on on the ground.

As I mentioned, this disaster has become personal for me. I'm awaiting news of my girlfriend's father, who has businesses in Sumatra and has been uncontactable all week. I also went to the area two years ago (not to Aceh but to Medan) and I'm kinda finding it hard to deal with evil people who capitalize on others deaths to advance their ideological agenda like those in your post.
posted by dydecker at 10:33 PM on December 31, 2004


Rumple, there are people that should have known better. People that should have seen the water retreat and realized what the hell was going on and sounding the alarm to get people off the people and up to safety.

I've heard stories of people actually going down to the water's edge to watch it retreat like it was just some natural oddity.

Kenya had a warning system and 3 people died there. I'm sure that there will eventually come out the stories of people who did save a whole bunch of lives by recognizing what was going on and clearing people out.
posted by fenriq at 10:33 PM on December 31, 2004


Hm. Well I guess the article has a point, although he could have said it more tactly. It can be argued, (if you're extremist enough), that the government shouldn't be donating taxpayers' money for "X" reason (insert pretty much anything for "X"). Or that charity should be a personal thing. But Objectivists think altruism in itself is bad. I think we should send them back 50,000 years and have them fight it out, Thomas Hobbes style.

The problem with Objectivism is that it's not a philosophy. Philosophy is intellectual and rigorous by nature. Objectivism is a lazy cult. They have some decent ideas, sure, but those ideas did not arise out of careful thought and reasoning. Rather, Rand postulates some unoriginal, obvious sounding "principles" and forces everything in the world into that narrow mindset without any debate. It's absolutist dogma with no room for dissent. Altruism is WRONG, greed is GOOD, collectivism is BAD, power is GOOD, egalitarism is BAD, etc.. It's simplistic and just plain stupid. Nothing in the world is reducible to that extent. Other philosophies have come to similar libertarian/free-market-promoting conclusions, but through carefully reasoned arguments. Just because Objectivists say things that sometimes sound reasonable doesn't make them right, because the process by which they come to those ideas is simply wrong to begin with. Randism is more of a religion rather than a system of thought.

I don't know of any "philosophy" on earth that's so dogmatic and incoherent. It would be one thing if Objectivism said it was a system of belief they adhered to, take it or leave it. No, they say their is the ONLY ONE RIGHT TRUE PATH, if you deviate from their laws you are IMMORAL and WRONG and ANTI-HUMAN. It's not utilitarian - they raise their ideas to that of moral obligation. Selfishness is good because it is good. If you are not selfish, you are bad. No philosophy that tells you want you ought to WANT is coherent.

There's a reason why Randism isn't taught in colleges and universities in the US or anywhere else. It's lazy, pseudo-intellectual crap.
posted by aerify at 10:37 PM on December 31, 2004


Even if you agree with Objectivism's conclusions (and some of them are alright), that's not to say you agree with their system of thought. Show me an objectivist and I'll show you someone who hasn't thought through his philosophy.

Selfishness isn't "good" or "bad". You can talk about the results of it, and applying economic models to life in general is fine as a descriptive thing. As a prescriptive it's just stupid.

"Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate." - Bertrand Russell
posted by aerify at 10:44 PM on December 31, 2004


As I mentioned, this disaster has become personal for me.

Generally when that happens, the best thing to do is to avoid that part of Metafilter that deals with your sensitive area.
posted by rushmc at 10:47 PM on December 31, 2004


aerify:I don't know of any "philosophy" on earth that's so dogmatic and incoherent. It would be one thing if Objectivism said it was a system of belief they adhered to, take it or leave it. No, they say their is the ONLY ONE RIGHT TRUE PATH, if you deviate from their laws you are IMMORAL and WRONG and ANTI-HUMAN.

Um...how about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc? Each of them proclaim that their respective "system of belief" is the One True Path, and those who don't believe and/or deviate from their Path are Immoral/Wrong -- condemned to hell, etc.
posted by davidmsc at 11:02 PM on December 31, 2004


It's funny how Americans have come to believe that they don't have a say in how their government behaves after elections are done.
Randians are generally idiots, but that one bit is correct. The government does not have any right to give your money to someone else as "aid". They do it all the time though, and most people don't really care because they agree with the reasons behind it. Doesn't make it right though.
posted by nightchrome at 11:05 PM on December 31, 2004


davidmsc: Um...how about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc?

Well, yeah. But those are religions. They clearly say you accept things based on faith, and faith alone. (I don't buy it, but that's another issue.) But Objectivism claims not to be religion. In fact they're supposed oppose the very idea. It's (supposedly) something that emphasizes Reason over Faith. A real intellectual, rational philosophy. And I'm saying it's not.

I generally think traditional God-fearing Christianity is a lot more coherent than Randism. (Not that's it's any more right, I'm just saying it makes a lot more sense.)
posted by aerify at 11:22 PM on December 31, 2004


Every opinion has that. For instance, I believe in democracy and think every other system is hideous and anti-human, but it's the majority opinion so it's not too controvertial.
posted by abcde at 11:36 PM on December 31, 2004


controversial...
posted by abcde at 11:36 PM on December 31, 2004


dydecker, you're looking at the wrong site. Best of hope to you and your girlfriend.
posted by casarkos at 11:41 PM on December 31, 2004


There's a reason why Randism isn't taught in colleges and universities in the US or anywhere else. It's lazy, pseudo-intellectual crap.

And yet we have the push for Intelligent Design in schools...
posted by juiceCake at 12:06 AM on January 1, 2005


But Objectivists think altruism in itself is bad.

What about the objectivist idea of the 'greater good'?
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:13 AM on January 1, 2005


On the up side, Bush Boosts U.S. Aid Tenfold
"After being criticized for his initial response to the tsunami disaster, the president pledges $350million. The death toll nears 150,000."
posted by slf at 12:33 AM on January 1, 2005


But the article maintains that it is morally wrong to FORCE anyone to "donate" via taxation to this effort. Hard to argue with that, too.

I think that it is actually pretty easy to argue with that, davidmsc.

History is your example: in governments that make requirement of the people to be nice to each other, to help each other, that require people to support the building of societal infrastructure, etc., it is only in these governments, the ones that FORCE one to "donate" that pseudo-intellectual Randians are able to engage in their masturbatory philosophical endeavors.

The societies Randians would build would be shit-holes. If these bozos are even remotely serious, they should get off their duffs and go live in Sierra Leone or some other place closer to the "paradise" they envision, and enjoy the fruits of their philosophy.

The entirety of the current Western societies are the argument against the idea that no one can be FORCED to "donate" via their tax dollars.
posted by teece at 12:48 AM on January 1, 2005


Over 150,000 living, breathing, loving, inventive, beautiful, caring, feeling, overworked, wonderful, funny, honest, depressed, creative, happy, tune-whistling, dancing, free spirited human beings no longer exist.

Shut the fuck up about your petty beliefs that you are somehow special, and that you owe nothing to anyone. You exist as a result of a long history of human beings agreeing that all things considered, it is better to take care of one another than not.
posted by Freen at 1:50 AM on January 1, 2005


By taking up to 50% (or more!) of your pay, the government deprives you of the option for you to give more aid to these people than less than a dollar (how pathetic, when you think about it, but that's no surprise considering it is the government).

I have a question for you all: If you had up to twice the disposable income you have now, would you choose to donate more than $1 to the people there?

Ahhh, the other side of the coin is just as dark, don't we see?

Poor people donate poorly. Rich people donate richly. But IRL, that can't be true, can it? Could the richest man in the world actually be donating more per day than you make in a month?

I can understand the dissonance against this opinion from the context of "Humanity is hell", but some of us have a higher opinion of humanity than that. Myself, I have come to find almost anyone I meet, with only a few exceptions, to be decent people. Perhaps others have not been so lucky.

Go Ayn Rand. Speaking the truth as usual.
posted by shepd at 2:26 AM on January 1, 2005


AlexReynolds: What about the objectivist idea of the 'greater good'?

That would be utilitarianism (an actual philosophy), not objectivism. Objectivism is strange in that they clearly state they don't give a fuck about non-objectivists, because they're EVIL and BAD. "So join our cult so you can reap the rewards!" They don't care about the "greater good". They say most humans are worthless. Who is worthy? Why, the objectivists are. The elite. Do you see the problem with this?
posted by aerify at 2:32 AM on January 1, 2005


I'm new-years-eve drunken, so I'll keep it short.

Ayn Rands philosophies are corrosive. If your pipes need cleaning, fine, but otherwise run awaaaaaay!
posted by telstar at 2:51 AM on January 1, 2005


shepd: fair point, but wouldn't an Objectivist criticise Gates for making those donations, though?
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:11 AM on January 1, 2005


By taking up to 50% (or more!) of your pay, the government deprives you of the option for you to give more aid to these people than less than a dollar
No, it doesn't. I have given many times that amount already. Are you using the fact that you pay taxes to justify not donating anything?

. . . (how pathetic, when you think about it, but that's no surprise considering it is the government).
The 'no surprise' part for me is that the current regime is reacting only to massive criticism of its penury. There's no profit for Halliburton in this, after all.

And I agree completely with Teece. It is definitely a worthy goal of government to use public funds to provide services that some can provide for themselves. See public schools and free libraries, two institutions that provided the educated citizenry required by our Republic.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:21 AM on January 1, 2005


And then they came for the Ayn Rand libertarians, and I did not speak out...
posted by zaelic at 4:29 AM on January 1, 2005


Why do objectivists hate America?

Because they're a pack of selfish, whining cunts?
posted by trondant at 5:11 AM on January 1, 2005


"After being criticized for his initial response to the tsunami disaster, the president pledges $350million."

Allow me to correct that quote. The initial response was $15 million dammit, not $35 million! NPR used that quote and I yelled at the radio.

Alan Greenspan is a Randian acolyte.

Altruism = evil
Greed = good

OK, got it.
Randian = stupid selfish, whining cunts?
I do wish they would cease using community services and then talk to me about how great their ideas are. Get off our collective internets!!
posted by nofundy at 5:49 AM on January 1, 2005


The history of compulsory donations to protect against disasters is a long one, but that wouldn't stop the Ayn Randians...

"Why should I have to pay a Danegeld of 2 shillings on my 100 acres just to protect some bloody fisherman in Essex from the Danes?"
Anonymous Objectivist, Northumbria, England, 991 AD
posted by runkelfinker at 6:17 AM on January 1, 2005


shepd ... was there ever a civilization that didn't take a significant portion of the average citizen's income? ... it seems to be the price of having civilization ... history shows that the most prosperous times for a society were when the needs of the poor and wants of the rich were balanced by a significant, mediating middle class ... let it go out of balance, as the objectivists or the communists would have happen, and tyranny and chaos are the result, no matter how noble or logical the ideals expressed by the ideological were

it's all happened before ... all you've got to do is look

dydecker - yes, it's rather tacky and nasty to use human tragedy to advance one's ideology ... many of us are offended ... my sympathies to you
posted by pyramid termite at 6:23 AM on January 1, 2005


Trondant, I'm printing out that comment and hanging it on my wall. I was going to launch into a shrewd, deep dissection of Randites. I was going to have a fun little parry with shepd and explain to him the wonders of living in, say, Bolivia, where all his dreams can come true.

But you summed up the meat of my argument perfectly in one line.
posted by Jimbob at 6:34 AM on January 1, 2005


The problem with Objectivists is not that they're all selfish, whining cunts (although it has been my personaly experience that many, possibly most of them are). The problem with Objectivists is that they follow a brand of pop-philosophy that you're supposed to drop at age 18 after a week's study in Philosophy 101, and they are unaware of this fact.
posted by Ryvar at 7:07 AM on January 1, 2005


my personal experience, even. Blagh. Happy New Years, all. Think I need to get more sleep before I set out to trash ideologies this morning.
posted by Ryvar at 7:08 AM on January 1, 2005


< there's a reason why randism isn't taught in colleges and universities in the us or anywhere else. it's lazy, pseudo-intellectual crap.>>

Aerify, certainly there are reasons Rand isn't taken too seriously in our colleges. But, the reasons you state aren't them... our schools proudly teach PLENTY of lazy, pseudo-intellectual crap, thank you very much.
posted by humannature at 7:21 AM on January 1, 2005



Why do objectivists hate America?

Because they're a pack of selfish, whining cunts?


It was a rhetorical question so I assumed everybody already knew the answer, but in case they didn't, thanks for providing it.
posted by drpynchon at 7:26 AM on January 1, 2005


I have no problem with the amount of aid given if enough of it is earmarked for the implementation of an early warning system.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:57 AM on January 1, 2005


I don't understand people at all. On one hand, people say that we have to just accept that we are part of a global society...even if that means that about a third of my friends can't find jobs.

On the other, they tell us we should not let our politicians give humanitarian aid to millions of people who need food and water, many of them in areas where we have already outsourced critical back office operations.

What, we only should accept the reality of a global society when it's good for business?

On one hand, people say we should hunt down the evil-doers by sending our armed forces to countries on the other side of the globe....costing Billions of dollars.
(I don't want my tax dollars spent on that war...do I get a say-so in that as well?!)

But then we're told that our politicians shouldn't spend any tax dollars to send survivors of the tsunami medical supplies that would prevent deadly diseases that are going to occur as a result of a natural disaster.

The government can spend our tax dollars as they see fit. The way our democracy is supposed to work is we elect people we think will represent us, then they get to Washington and vote the way we wanted on how to spend the money the government collects from our taxes. It's called taxation with representation. (sheesh don't y'all remember SchoolHouse Rocks??)

Thank God most Americans elect people who want to use America's wealth to do good in the face of such a horrible disaster, instead of the dorks who write editorials for the Ayn Rand Institute.

posted by gminks at 8:04 AM on January 1, 2005


Yeah, this post sucked the first time too.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:15 AM on January 1, 2005


If we can buy some good will from the rest of the world for a lousy few million, I say 'go for it'. When Baxter HealthCare and FedEx got into that piece on CNN, were they thinking 'common good', or PR and one last tax-break for '04? ;-P
posted by mischief at 8:48 AM on January 1, 2005


My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:02 AM on January 1, 2005


I know a fair number of people who once considered themselves Objectivists. Then they turned seventeen.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:20 AM on January 1, 2005


I think that a mob should descend upon the Ayn Rand Institute with torches and paintball guns, and that the government should not help them repel the invaders.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:40 AM on January 1, 2005


Some slight alterations to one of davidmsc's earlier post, just to be a stinker:

I don't necessarily disagree with the US government spending $100bn+ on the Iraq warf...good grief, one of the defining characteristics of America is that we are warlike and powerhungry... But the article maintains that it is morally wrong to FORCE anyone to "donate" via taxation to this effort. Hard to argue with that, too.

But really, $100bn+ is WHOLE LOT OF MONEY. Would I be more comfortable if that money was returned to Americans via tax cuts? Would liberals rather use that money to fund a low-income healthcare program? Would we be better off using the money to put a human on Mars? Is this the best use of $100bn+? Is it the right use of that money?

I'm not sure what the right answer is -- certainly I think that assistance should be rendered to the Iraqi people/Halliburton subsidiaries, but I honestly don't know how we can possibly determine the "proper" amount, either financially, militarily (armored humvees, etc), or otherwise. My inner Objectivist is definitely wrestling with this issue...

[/beating a dead horse]

For the record, I was one of those pre-17 Objectivists that Ethereal Bligh mentioned. I still enjoy Rand's fiction, and I think she makes some good points now and again, but her main problem is that she cobbled together a bunch of ideas about the way she thought things should be without really thinking through if any of it made sense together. I get the feeling that neither Rand nor her follows ever really thought through the philosophy.
posted by papakwanz at 10:44 AM on January 1, 2005


That should be the Iraq war, not the Iraq warf.
posted by papakwanz at 10:45 AM on January 1, 2005


The Iraq wharf.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:09 AM on January 1, 2005


I think this is basically a publicity stunt by the Ayn Rand Society. Sure, Rand would have been against using tax money to help tsunami victims. She would also have been against using tax money to fund the space shuttle. But saying 'By what right do you demand that we contribute to space exploration' doesn't make you sound special.

Sure, I would rather that I only paid taxes for the bare essentials of government and made my own decisions about what to do with the rest of the money. But the truth is that I do get taxed for more than the bare essentials of government. And if that's going to happen, there are a lot worse things that 'extra' tax money could be spent on than helping the victims of natural disaster.
posted by bingo at 3:26 PM on January 1, 2005


fishinabarrellfilter
posted by jonmc at 3:41 PM on January 1, 2005


Poor people donate poorly. Rich people donate richly. But IRL, that can't be true, can it? Could the richest man in the world actually be donating more per day than you make in a month?

Actually, the poor are more likely to be generous and give to charity than the rich.

And I honestly don't see how Senator Crockett had a point. The Constituion grants Congress the power to pass laws and to levy taxes, and to spend that money for (among other things), "the general welfare." (See article 1, Section 8: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States").
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:24 PM on January 1, 2005


euscacescrubb: Crockett's issue would definitely be in reference to the word 'general.' The argument (to him) is whether the general welfare of the country is being served by aid to those who suffered any particular tragedy.
posted by bingo at 7:03 PM on January 1, 2005


This is a lovely collection of emotional reactions and ad hominem attacks. jdroth brought up some tangential complaints, but the article itself doesn't say anything about whether altruism is good or bad or whether we should give aid or not, only about the government's rightful role in that aid.

I guess a lot of people here are upset or have an axe to grind, but today it's the metafilter crowd that looks childish to me.
posted by aigeek at 10:36 PM on January 1, 2005


Note the sharp critique by naturalist David Galbraith. An excerpt:
My main problem with Randys is that they like to think of themselves as members of an elite club of successful rationalists, promoting charity and voluntary donation over tax, not a cult for self-righteous, mediocre people with uncharitable instincts - a 'banality' of evil.
Galbraith, incidentally, has a zen-beautiful site full of brilliant discourse like this. If I were older, I'd be FPPing him.
posted by NickDouglas at 11:01 PM on January 1, 2005


As a side note of fanatical editing zeal, Howard Roark is no relation to Mr. Roarke, the master of Fantasy Island.

"I am Mr. Roark, your host. Welcome to Objectivism Island!"

Dagnique stared at the tall, gaunt man in his white suit. His cruel, aristocratic features sent a tortured erotic shiver through her vulva.
posted by Darkman at 11:43 PM on January 1, 2005


Taxation is all about forcing people to pay for things they don't think they need. As an individual you don't need vaccinations and probably wouldnt want to pay for them. If everybody around you is vaccinated, You're not at risk. On the other hand, if nobody is vaccinated, you have an epidemic.

As an individual every man woman and child in the United States might give a dime to some disaster relief group or another, but not one of those NGOs has C-5 galaxies, or the worlds largest collection of helicoptors, or one of the most mobile and skilled Army Corp of Engineers a group of folks who study civil engineering and deal with flooding on a regular basis. Those are things only the Government of the US can provide.
posted by Megafly at 9:33 AM on January 4, 2005


Following papakwanz, considering that the US has spent nearly $150 billion on the Iraq war and the AR is apparently fully behind that. If there was any honesty in their thought, they would oppose the Iraq war on the same principle.

What a disgusting bunch. They'd rather steal $100 from me to kill a person I don't know than $10 to save one. They are intellectual cowards and tools of the state.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:46 AM on January 4, 2005


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